Blood Cells (2015) – 2001: A Farmer’s Odyssey
Blood Cells is an interpretive, expansive and epically scaled independent road movie from the British trio of Luke Seomore (writer/director/composer), Joseph Bull (writer/director) and Ben Young (producer/writer). The story follows Adam, a farmer whose family livelihood was wrecked by the foot-and-mouth in 2001, and who lives a dazed and distant existence. Haunting flashbacks of Adam’s father, shotgun in hand, are accompanied by scenes of burning carcasses to make up the introductory ten minutes, with no simple expository dialogue to hold the hand of the viewer. From the outset, tone supersedes all else as the film introduces its topics of isolation, mental illness, denial and possibly some redemption.
After receiving news of the upcoming birth of his first nephew, our protagonist Adam embarks on his odyssey. He travels the country, like a biblical shepherd of the nativity, to reconnect with his family as much as himself, his past as much as his future. That may sound one-dimensional and overly grandiose, but there’s a profound visionary sense to the film. Adam is the procrastinating wanderer, unable to avoid the inevitabilities of his lifestyle, one of surface charisma and an unattached cool (think like a clean-shaven, melancholy Buddha), but it leaves him emotionally distant from his family and life in general. The film introduces Adam through almost standalone episodes of interaction with new characters, including his girlfriend, cousin, old friends, and random teenagers, each contributing to the subtle construction of the dark cypher of Adam’s identity.
The minimalism that covers the film’s sensibility buries any straightforward meaning, leaving uncertainty and inviting speculation. It pulls you in by almost subliminally suggesting the drama through the production and score. Everywhere less is more, Barry Ward’s stoic, stony-faced reacting is his multi-layered acting, the epic Odyssean journey through the rural wastelands and brutalist cities is played out in the overcast bleak fields, local pubs and in council estate flats. By avoiding melodrama and splicing Adam’s isolation and distance into the production, the film feels like an experimental character investigation, which it achieves effortlessly.
Written by Peter deGraft-Johnson